Patterico's Pontifications


President Bush & Iraq Vet on ‘Deal or No Deal’

Filed under: Politics,War — DRJ @ 9:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Capt. Joseph Kobes, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who has served in Iraq three times, is a contestant on Howie Mandel’s game show “Deal or No Deal.” He’s competing to get enough money to pay off his parents’ house. The taping included a moment where President Bush expressed gratitude for his service and wished him luck in the game.

President Bush isn’t the most popular politician right now (and he knows it, judging by this quote) but he’s still a pretty funny guy:

“I’m thrilled to be on ‘Deal or No Deal’ with you tonight. Come to think of it, I’m thrilled to be anywhere with high ratings these days.”

It’s a nice clip. Take a look.


Tony Snow Joins CNN

Filed under: Media Bias — DRJ @ 7:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

CNN announced that Tony Snow will join the network Monday as a conservative commentator:

“Former White House press secretary Tony Snow will join CNN as a conservative commentator beginning Monday.

CNN president Jon Klein announced that Snow, a long-time political observer with a longstanding news background, will contribute to CNN as the network continues to broadcast winning political coverage.”

The first comment for this story at CNN’s website was from someone named Bill:

“Oh my God! This explains why CNN has become so conservative and pro-Hillary lately.”


LA’s Third World Future

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 6:36 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

According to this article in the Los Angeles Times, LA’s future may not be pretty:

“With baby boomers preparing to retire as the best educated and most skilled workforce in U.S. history, a growing chorus of demographers and labor experts is raising concerns that workers in California and the nation lack the critical skills needed to replace them.

In particular, experts say, the immigrant workers needed to fill many of the boomer jobs lack the English-language skills and basic educational levels to do so. Many immigrants are ill-equipped to fill California’s fastest-growing positions, including computer software engineers, registered nurses and customer service representatives, a new study by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute found.”

The solution? The consensus is that “greater investments in public education, a renewed focus on vocational education and better job training are critical to California’s continued prosperity.” In other words, train the people that are already here. Good idea.

However, the real story is in the third through fifth paragraphs:

Immigrants — legal and illegal — already constitute almost half of the workers in Los Angeles County and are expected to account for nearly all of the growth in the nation’s working-age population by 2025 because native-born Americans are having fewer children. But the study, based largely on U.S. Census data, noted that 60% of the county’s immigrant workers struggle with English and one-third lack high school diplomas.

The looming mismatch in the skills employers need and those workers offer could jeopardize the future economic vitality of California and the nation, experts say. Los Angeles County, the largest immigrant metropolis with about 3.5 million foreign-born residents, is at the forefront of this demographic trend.

“The question is, are we going to be a 21st century city with shared prosperity, or a Third World city with an elite group on top and the majority at poverty or near poverty wages?” asked Ernesto Cortes Jr., Southwest regional director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, a leadership development organization. “Right now we’re headed toward becoming a Third World city. But we can change that.”

Some, like Dowell Myers, a USC urban planning and demography professor and author of the 2007 book “Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America,” expect immigrants to pay our old-age support programs:

“Even if you don’t like it, you have to ask the question: Who’s going to fill your jobs, buy your homes and pay the taxes for old-age support programs?” Myers said.”

That part might be hard to sell.


McCain Opts for Federal Funds

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Politico reports that John McCain is expected to accept federal funds to finance his general election campaign:

“John McCain is abandoning any hope of catching the Democrats in fundraising.

Based on new financial disclosure reports released Sunday, and interviews with his finance team, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee will instead accept taxpayer money to finance his general election and share other costs with the Republican National Committee.

The strategy will allow McCain to stretch his campaign dollars by splitting the cost of television advertising and other campaign activity with the RNC.

But the decision also puts the Arizona senator at risk of being badly outspent – even with RNC help – by a Democratic nominee who will be allowed to spend as much as he or she can raise on the November race.

McCain has raised a total of $72 million for his presidential bid, including $15 million in March. He ended last month with about $11.5 million in cash.

In contrast, Democrat Barack Obama has raised more than $236 million for his campaign. He raised nearly $43 million in March and ended the month with $51 million in cash and no debts.”

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that McCain has championed the benefits of regulation and now he’s feeling the pinch? However, he will receive approximately $84M in federal funds plus joint campaign expenditures with the RNC:

“Under the program, McCain will be eligible to receive $84.1 million from the national treasury to run his campaign between his official nomination at the September Republican convention in Minnesota and Election Day.

Between now and then, McCain needs only to raise enough money to travel and keep his profile high enough not to be forgotten while the Democrats continue to battle one another. If a Democratic nominee emerges with enough time to launch an attack against McCain, a handful of well financed, Republican-friendly outside groups stand ready to quickly come to his aid.

McCain also can spend his summer headlining joint events to help raise money for the RNC, which can allocate millions to boosting his candidacy. The RNC on Sunday reported having $31 million in cash, compared to just $5 million in the Democratic National Committee’s account.

By directing donations to the RNC, money also can be raised in bigger chunks. The maximum donation to the RNC is $28,500; the biggest allowable donation to the McCain campaign for the general election would have been $2,300.”

Money talks in elections and this puts McCain at a disadvantage. It will be interesting to see how well the RNC does in fundraising this summer.

I think McCain’s fundraising problems are due in part to his late start in organizing but it’s also an indication of how conservatives view McCain. For now, conservatives may reluctantly give him their votes … but not their money.


Obama the Uniter

Filed under: 2008 Election,Humor — DRJ @ 1:04 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama has been called a uniter, not a divider, even though he has been unable to unite more than two-thirds of his own Party behind his candidacy and Hillary Clinton is vowing to continue.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of unity, here are some ideas from a March 15 Larry Elder article suggesting how Obama can unite Americans:

Taxes: Barack Obama’s America blasts the Bush tax cuts for “unfairly” benefiting the rich. They intend to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, with resulting higher taxes on income, capital gains and dividends.

The other America believes in limited government, low taxes, fewer regulations. They believe that individuals, rather than government, know how to best spend, save or invest their own money. This part of America feels that the Kennedy, Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts actually benefited the economy by placing more capital in the hands of private actors, resulting in more jobs, greater productivity and higher net worth.

Obama’s solution: Shared sacrifice. If your last name begins with A through E, Obama will continue the Bush tax cuts. If your last name begins with F through L, Obama will allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. If your last name begins with M through Z, Obama will raise your taxes. Now the following fiscal year, those with last names beginning A through E face a tax increase. The F through L’s get the Bush tax cuts. And the L through Z’s will have their tax cuts expire. The next fiscal year, Obama will rearrange the cuts, depending, of course, on your last name, and will continue this rotation every year of his administration.

The Iraq war: Obama’s America considers the war a failure, a war that “never should have been authorized, and never should have been aged.” They feel the Iraq war makes Americans less safe, causes us to take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, infuriates our allies, and uses funds better spent elsewhere.

The other America feels that, however we got into Iraq, leaving precipitously emboldens our enemies, creates a safe haven for terrorism, and gives Iran – an avowed enemy of America and a country pursuing nuclear weapons – a dangerous and destabilizing influence over oil-rich Iraq. This part of America believes we cannot in good conscience leave without ensuring Iraq’s stability because that would endanger our own. This part of America agrees with former Secretary of State James Baker, “[I]f we picked up and left right now, you would see the biggest civil war you’ve ever seen. Every neighboring country would be involved in there, doing its own thing, Turkey, Iran, Syria, you name it, and even our friends in the Gulf.”

Obama’s solution: Withdraw all troops by the year 2009. Then send them back in 2010, followed by their return to America in 2011, with another redeployment to Iraq in 2012. These on/off, every-other-year rotations would continue throughout his presidency. This satisfies those who want the troops home immediately. But it also appeases those who consider our national security dependent upon a military presence in Iraq. This policy also confuses our enemy, since they never know whether we are coming or going.”

Elder also offers solutions for Obama on health care and global warming. It’s funny stuff. Sometimes ideas are funniest when they are almost true.


FLDS Child Custody Hearings – DNA Update

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 12:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The San Angelo Standard Times reports that DNA samples from the FLDS children and their parents takes 30-50 days to process and some results may not be available under 4 days after the hearings are scheduled to conclude:

“Technicians began taking samples for DNA testing this morning from YFZ Ranch children being kept at the San Angelo Coliseum, the Texas Attorney General’s office said today.

The agency said results from the tests will take 30 to 50 days to process for children and parents from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ranch near Eldorado.

If it takes the full 50 days, the results will not be available until June 9, four days after the 60-day custody hearings must be completed.”

The technicians are taking DNA samples and photographs to help authorities match samples to the children.


L.A. Times: Patterico a “prominent Angeleno” who weighs in on Special Order 40

Filed under: Deport the Criminals First,Dog Trainer,Public Policy — Justin Levine @ 12:17 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

Perhaps he is too bashful to admit it, but Patterico’s favorite newspaper labels him as a “prominent Angeleno” in today’s edition which asks several people their views on Special Order 40 in Los Angeles. (His actual views on the subject are well worth reading too – apart from the side issue of what he is labeled as.)

[Justin Levine]

Going to College

Filed under: Economics,Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 11:57 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s getting harder to gain admission to elite colleges, especially this year in which there are a record 3.3 million high school graduates and 60-65% are going to college.

Take the case of Navonil Ghosh, an Austin, Texas, magnet high school senior who scored perfect scores on the SAT and ACT, is 4th in his class, plays the piano, has a black belt in Kung Fu, and has more than 400 hours of volunteer time. Yet his applications were rejected at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and the University of Texas Plan II honors program. Ghosh was waitlisted at Yale and plans to attend either CalTech or Rice, where he was accepted.

Stories like this aren’t that surprising for those familiar with current college admissions. There are so many impressive applicants at elite colleges that schools can afford to be selective. In addition, because colleges emphasize the US News ranking factors such as yield (the percentage of accepted students that actually attend the college), private colleges want to admit only those applicants who are likely to attend.

Not only is demand up but the cost of college tuition is increasing faster than inflation or household income. Steven Pearlstein addressed rising costs last November in an article at the Washington Post:

“Part of the problem is that it’s virtually impossible to have a coherent conversation about an industry that takes in Harvard, East Podunk Community College and everything in between.

It’s also hard to bring economic logic to a market in which the product is usually sold at a loss, competition tends to push prices higher rather than lower, and at many schools, half the customers are forced to subsidize the other half.”

Pearlstein identifies several problems that are contributing to spiraling tuition costs, including the financial assistance race to entice better students and the fact that demand for college is growing faster than supply.

Growing tuition costs have caused some applicants and parents to reconsider the benefits of an elite college education. As a result, lower-cost colleges and state schools may be benefiting from the increased competition and costs at elite colleges, although costs are going up there, too.

Of course, there will always be colleges like the University of Colorado that are attractive to applicants because of the special atmosphere:

“A crowd of about 10,000 people collectively began counting down on the University of Colorado’s Norlin Quadrangle just before 4:20 p.m. Sunday.

Yet the massive puff of pot smoke that hovers over CU’s Boulder campus every April 20 — the date of an annual, internationally recognized celebration of marijuana — began rising over the sea of heads earlier than normal this year.
Smoke-out participants — thousands of whom wore green or T-shirts promoting pot — climbed trees, played the bongos, snapped pictures and had miniature picnics. That, of course, after they sparked the weed they had come to smoke.

CU freshman Emily Benson, 19, of Kansas City, said she thinks the decriminalization of marijuana will become a hot topic in the upcoming political season and said she felt part of something bigger than just a smoke-out on Sunday.

“We’re at the starting point of a movement,” she said. “This is a big part of the reason I applied here — for the weed atmosphere.”

I’m sure Emily will have wonderful college stories to tell her children someday.


Obama’s Moral Hygiene

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:10 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune editorial board notes William F. Buckley, Jr.’s “stalwart insistence on moral hygiene” in which “he rejected the temptation to join forces with anti-Semites, the John Birch Society and other extremists.” Chapman then examines the relationship between Obama and William Ayers, his “terrorist acquaintance:”

“Obama minimized his relationship by acknowledging only that he knows [William] Ayers. But they have quite a bit more of a connection than that. He’s appeared on panels with Ayers, served on a foundation board with him and held a 1995 campaign event at the home of Ayers and his wife, fellow former terrorist Bernardine Dohrn. Ayers even gave money to one of his campaigns.

It’s not as though Ayers and Dohrn have denied or repudiated their crimes. After emerging from years in hiding, they escaped federal prosecution because of government misconduct in gathering evidence, but they don’t pretend they were innocent. In 2001, Ayers said, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Dohrn has likewise rationalized the explosions, claiming that “our acts of resistance were tiny and symbolic.” She even went to prison for refusing to testify about an armored-car robbery involving her confederates. That crime was not tiny or symbolic to the two police officers or the security guard who were shot to death in the process.

All this is public record, and Barack Obama would have to be in a coma not to know it. Yet he showed no qualms about consorting with Ayers and Dohrn.

It’s hard to imagine he would be so indulgent if we learned that John McCain had a long association with a former Klansman who used to terrorize African-Americans. Obama’s conduct exposes a moral blind spot about these onetime terrorists, who get a pass because they a) fall on the left end of the spectrum and b) haven’t planted any bombs lately.

You can tell a lot about someone from his choice of friends. What this friendship reveals is that when it comes to practicing sound moral hygiene, Obama has work to do and no interest in doing it.

It must sting for a liberal to be compared to William F. Buckley, Jr., and not measure up.


Federal Government Can Regulate Employees’ Political Activities At Home?

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,General — Patterico @ 12:06 am

At the Washington Post, Stephen Barr has a piece about the Hatch Act and federal employees. Barr describes the Hatch Act in this way:

The law prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, wearing campaign buttons in the office and putting campaign bumper stickers on a government car. It also bans soliciting, accepting or receiving political contributions, and prohibits employees from using their official positions to influence or interfere with an election.

Most of the piece describes the sanctions that federal employees face for using federal work equipment to electioneer; this seems noncontroversial and completely constitutional. But I am disturbed by the notion that the Hatch Act also regulates what federal employees can do at home, on their own time:

Blogging about politics at work falls into the don’t-do category, but blogging from home may also get a federal employee in trouble.

Presidential campaign Web sites, for example, encourage supporters to create blogs on the site to advocate the candidate’s positions. They also usually carry a link for campaign donations, and that can be trouble for a federal employee, even when using a home computer. The OSC may view the donate button as soliciting for political contributions, another no-no under the Hatch Act, and set off an investigation.

Wow. So if you’re a federal employee, the federal government can prevent you from soliciting political contributions for your preferred candidate? Even when you’re at home, on your own time, using your own communications equipment?

I’m no expert on election law, but my non-legal gut reaction is that this is inconsistent with the First Amendment.

Tell me where I’m wrong.

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